(Topic ID: 172477)

I've been a long time Stern Pinball fan, but I'm done with them.


By jar155

2 years ago



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    #701 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinmaniac:

    Disagree all you want. I sat and listened to Gary for an hour. He couldn't gush enough about barcades and the millennials who are discovering and playing pinball there.
    Don't have any interest in listening to a podcast. I believe you that George said that; however, with Gary saying completely the opposite including and I quote "operators are more of our business than collectors" the company is putting out mixed messages.
    That being said I do agree with your last sentence.

    Not saying you didn't hear Gary say that... but it's worthy to note that Gary told the same podcast that more than half of Stern's US sales are to the home market.

    Stern does do healthy operator business in Europe, but these new prices are going to absolutely kill that.

    #702 2 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    Not saying you didn't hear Gary say that... but it's worthy to note that Gary told the same podcast that more than half of Stern's US sales are to the home market.
    Stern does do healthy operator business in Europe, but these new prices are going to absolutely kill that.

    I dont know $200 price increase doesn't seem like it will kill it to me. Not saying I like the price increase but BM66 is not their new pricing model.

    #703 2 years ago
    Quoted from Pinballlew:

    BM66 is not their new pricing model.

    You sure about that? When has Stern ever lowered prices? I mean, they finally have an LCD in the game, so that cost MUST be passed on to the end consumer!!

    #704 2 years ago
    Quoted from Khabbi:

    You sure about that? When has Stern ever lowered prices? I mean, they finally have an LCD in the game, so that cost MUST be passed on to the end consumer!!

    Well according to Stern they have said that this is not their standard pricing model several times. LCD is cheaper then DMD's.

    #705 2 years ago
    Quoted from Pinballlew:

    I dont know $200 price increase doesn't seem like it will kill it to me. Not saying I like the price increase but BM66 is not their new pricing model.

    200 will not kill it. But iffy quality control, code roulette and not quite ready games will.

    #706 2 years ago
    Quoted from Khabbi:

    You sure about that? When has Stern ever lowered prices? I mean, they finally have an LCD in the game, so that cost MUST be passed on to the end consumer!!

    the spike system is cheaper and less cable looms and labour but no cheaper price tag for spike machine's.

    #707 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinballwil:

    the spike system is cheaper and less cable looms and labour but no cheaper price tag for spike machine's.

    LCD is cheaper than dot matrix, too.

    Look Stern's games are now practically $5000.... and while that's the cheapest on the market, how many operators are buying $5000 pinball machines when other games and redemption machines (1) don't require maintenance and (2) pay for themselves?

    The truth is: for the vast majority of US operators pinball is a subpar earner. Great in the home.... not so great on location

    #708 2 years ago

    This was the last straw for me...I ordered a TWD LW as well. Then they announced the 'cool' side rails, legs and topper would be extra. So basically I needed another grand+ after buying the 'top of the line game'

    I cancelled and still haven't bought another NIB Stern. In fact I've be de-Sterning my collection in general. As my buddy put it..'turn the volume off..all the Stern are about the same game.'

    Quoted from Hazoff:

    That pin was the turning point for me as well, STLE even though the code wasn't complete looked like an LE and TWD just disappointed me first in cosmetics then the difference in gameplay from initial code to a year later while great took too long, I didn't care that they announced a Pre version but I wouldn't buy a Stern now for at least a year after release.

    #709 2 years ago

    Even if over half of US sales are to home, the majority of sales could still be to ops when looking worldwide.

    #710 2 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    how many operators are buying $5000 pinball machines when other games and redemption machines (1) don't require maintenance and (2) pay for themselves?

    You would be surprised how much pinball is earning these days ...

    #711 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinballwil:

    the spike system is cheaper and less cable looms and labour but no cheaper price tag for spike machine's.

    Yup.. anyone who thinks prices aren't going up even tho BOM shifts are down are driving with their eyes shut..

    #712 2 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    LCD is cheaper than dot matrix, too.
    Look Stern's games are now practically $5000.... and while that's the cheapest on the market, how many operators are buying $5000 pinball machines when other games and redemption machines (1) don't require maintenance and (2) pay for themselves?
    The truth is: for the vast majority of US operators pinball is a subpar earner. Great in the home.... not so great on location

    Too much maintenance and too little return is what the operators in my area say.

    Thankfully, Silverball Museum is a few blocks from my office.

    #713 2 years ago
    Quoted from Monster_Bash:

    This was the last straw for me...I ordered a TWD LW as well. Then they announced the 'cool' side rails, legs and topper would be extra. So basically I needed another grand+ after buying the 'top of the line game'
    I cancelled and still haven't bought another NIB Stern. In fact I've be de-Sterning my collection in general. As my buddy put it..'turn the volume off..all the Stern are about the same game.'

    Yup, spot on. Star Trek LE was basically the last real LE from Stern. Real mirrored backglass, high end laser etched metallic armor that lit up, lighting on interior of cabinet, stainless steel speaker grill, side of cabinets lit of with metal Star Trek insignia, metal apron with lighting. If Star Trek LE was made today the laser etched armor would be an add on and it wouldn't even light up and instead you would get generic blue powder coated armor.

    Since Star Trek LE Stern has basically been slowly pulling out features that are typically included with an LE and making most of them an after market mod. It's happening with other models now as well, Batman 66 premium is basically a Stern pro... Not only has the price of games gone up considerable since Star Trek but you are now getting less and quality has gone down. Oh, there's now $400-$500 toppers being sold too, lol.

    I wouldn't be surprised with every new game that Stern management has a meeting and asks each other "So, what could we pull out of the game this time to increase are bottom line"?

    #714 2 years ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    I wouldn't be surprised with every new game that Stern management has a meeting and asks each other "So, what could we pull out of the game this time to increase are bottom line"?

    That sounds more likely than "So, how much money should we leave on the table this time? How can we make less on each title we sell? Should we just start giving these away to people? Then they will love us."

    #715 2 years ago
    Quoted from flynnibus:

    Yup.. anyone who thinks prices aren't going up even tho BOM shifts are down are driving with their eyes shut..

    Oh for fuck sake, what business in their right mind doesn't do exactly that. I don't like the increases but I accept that the entire point of being in business IS PROFIT, so I buy or don't buy based on the perceived value to me at the price I'm quoted NOT how much profit I think the company deserves. Are the people that resell their TRON LE's for 150% of what they paid greedy or smart?

    #716 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinworthy:

    Are the people that resell their TRON LE's for 150% of what they paid greedy or smart?

    They're morons. That puppy is going to be $20K by Christmas ...

    #717 2 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    They're morons. That puppy is going to be $20K by Christmas ...

    On a more serious note, I'm calling dibs on your TRON LE when you decide to sell it.

    #718 2 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    That sounds more likely than "So, how much money should we leave on the table this time? How can we make less on each title we sell? Should we just start giving these away to people? Then they will love us."

    Most responsible companies either cut costs or raise prices if they're looking to improve margins in the short term (without addressing inefficiencies or improving processes). The companies that do both start losing customer loyalty. It's REALLY piss poor of a company to do both.

    #719 2 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    You would be surprised how much pinball is earning these days ..

    it's all about location and business sense. The pinballzine 940 guy routes for a living (but he also routes video games), and even he'll tell you retro video games still earn better. Also he never takes less than 100% cut, in his mind pinball machines bring in customers so why should they get a cut. On the other hand, the owner of Joliet pinball (far chicago suburb) just barely makes it with his 30-40 pinball machines (which is a good destination). In a recent post, he even commented he's finding the customers are spending more time on the driving game he has, so he just picked up 2 more retro driving games to help draw in crowds. Pinball profits are hard.

    #720 2 years ago
    Quoted from clg:

    200 will not kill it. But iffy quality control, code roulette and not quite ready games will.

    Yeah those areas are not quite directed towards the operators though. Ghostbusters for example is a success for OPS...and it has issues in all three of those areas...I think Stern is addressing the playfield issues and I would hope all the QC areas. I am quite surprised that this year with only GB being released that code updates didn't seem to happen on older titles, seems like they had a lot of "catch up" time to do just that.

    #721 2 years ago

    Pinball profits are bad. They just are. Despite a resurgence in some areas, in the vast majority of locations, pinball just can't draw much in regards to coin drop. Priced at $1 a play, it still takes over 6,500 plays to just break even on a premium model machine (more if you're routing a JJP). That's to break even, assuming that you don't factor your own time in, maintenance on the machine, or your travel expenses. Oh, and that's if you're getting 100% take, somehow not having to deal with business costs, and if you don't have to buy a license to operate.

    If you want to make a living off of pinball routing, you probably have to clear $70,000 in profit per year from your machines, because you're most likely also buying your own health insurance (never heard of a route that offers healthcare coverage), buying your own food, and paying for your own utilities.

    Now, when a machine goes up $200-$300 per release, it starts to add up quickly for an operator. In a year when he buys two games, that's an extra 60 plays a month. The problem is compounded by shoddy QC or cheapened product causing more downtime on games. If someone locks up a Ghostbusters on a bug, that game might be done for the day until it gets power cycled. Any slip in quality paired with rising cost is making life so much harder on the operator. I've talked to lots of them, it's not easy out there.

    If you want to know why so many route games are beat up and unshopped, it's because they're taking a real job to support themselves and running the route as a secondary source of income. The days of getting by solely with a route are long gone for most.

    Edit: I should mention that I was *this* close to opening a route in 2016 to capitalize on the "pinball resurgence." It's nowhere near what it used to be, and price hikes on machines have outpaced what players are putting into pinball today as an offsetting factor. I researched it for months personally. In the end, even putting out a used machine, like The Addams Family, was barely worth the return for the wear and tear it puts on the game and the time commitment needed to keep it well maintained for play.

    #722 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    If someone locks up a Ghostbusters on a bug, that game might be done for the day until it gets power cycled

    You're not even including the negative impact that a pinball with bugs has on earnings. Imagine for a second looking through the eyes of a non-pinhead. You walk up to a machine, has issues. In your mind you're saying to yourself "Why did I even bother giving pinball another chance? bartender won't even give me a refund, he says contact the operator.. whatever that means". That person is probably going to go play golden tee golf, or billiards, or something else he knows is reliable.

    #723 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    Pinball profits are bad. They just are. ....

    Quoted from jar155:

    ....If you want to make a living off of pinball routing, you probably have to clear $70,000 in profit per year from your machines, because you're most likely also buying your own health insurance (never heard of a route that offers healthcare coverage), buying your own food, and paying for your own utilities. ....

    Hmmm so your premise is that Stern is not allowed to make profit so operators can?

    #724 2 years ago
    Quoted from Pinballlew:

    Yeah those areas are not quite directed towards the operators though. Ghostbusters for example is a success for OPS...and it has issues in all three of those areas....

    Not so sure about this. I only know of one but it has been earning fairly average and I believe has dropped off after a lot of initial interest. People don't like getting beat up by cheap drains.

    Quoted from jar155:

    Pinball profits are bad. They just are. Despite a resurgence in some areas, in the vast majority of locations, pinball just can't draw much in regards to coin drop.

    I hate to say it but you are correct. I have been operating some games for a while and you can make money off them but the ROI is not great particularly when you consider the maintenance time needed. My most profitable games overall have been projects I do up, route, and then sell for more than I paid for them. I am thinking about expanding but this will mean diversifying and not just relying on pinball.

    #725 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinworthy:

    Hmmm so your premise is that Stern is not allowed to make profit so operators can?

    No, and your blind defense of them is childish in your understanding of things. A business doesn't exist to make the most profit as quickly as possible. It's to be the most sustainable in profitability over time.

    Stern has to be responsible on their pricing and with the quality of their product. If they aren't, it's the operator that suffers the most. Once the operators start tapping out, that in turn hurts Stern. Stern's recent money grab efforts are going to be bad for long-term business in exchange for a short term profit spike. Keep offloading more cost on the operator via maintenance due to lower quality builds while upping the entry cost, and you have a perfect mix for pushing operators out of business; or at the very least, push operators out of the business of operating new games.

    #726 2 years ago

    Reminder that BM66 SLE and LE sold out almost instantaneously. Hard to say how many went to operators versus homeowners, but I will say the big 3 operators in the nearby major city I go play at all got BM66s. One got an SLE.

    #727 2 years ago

    i just found out that stern isn't stocking a major ball guide for a machine i own that recently broke. how is this even possible?

    #728 2 years ago
    Quoted from Ballsofsteel:

    i'm really concerned about sterns lack of stocking parts for their current machines. my metal ball guide for the left/center ramp broke on my GOT pro and stern told me they didn't have any replacements, that they would "fabricate one or come up with something." So what happens in 10+ years when we need parts for stern machines? they aren't having replacements made?

    Private owners need to recognize these facets, I have been trying to educate upon for some time.
    Stern does not make game specific parts for games older than 5 years, unless rerun (such as LOTR LE) or remain in production, which no modern game has reached yet (MET is still moving along...)
    Most NOS factory stock is dried up before 10 years, dependent on the actual production run size.
    "When the parts are gone, they are gone."

    Go try and find parts of a RCT, or even a BBH that was made in 2010.
    You will not be happy with the answer, that you already anticipate what it will be overall.
    Relying on manufacturers or even secondary aftermarket suppliers to provide parts is a gamble.
    Why?
    Stern DOES NOT WANT games to work "forever", they want people to buy NEW GAMES.
    I know that may sound stupid from a game designed in 2015 (GoT), but the mindset remains unchanged.
    I don't make the Stern rules.
    It makes no sense for them NOT to have the part you need as the game is still in production!

    The best option is to learn how to "bulletproof" games, by scrutinizing Achilles heels, repair expertise, acquiring additional NOS parts from collectors and third parties, and getting a good example up front.

    I am not turding on collectors or Stern, as it was said in another thread, "its just business."
    It it does not make enough money, they won't make extra parts.

    #729 2 years ago

    i'm just really interested is all. thanks for your opinion.

    #730 2 years ago

    Regarding Gary Stern's interview in Florida at the operator venue:

    Please try and understand his audience at the time.
    He wants to give "hope" to operators, even though the market and tide has turned.
    This is not the first time this has been discussed.
    The only true venues that are commercially viable are "hot pockets" in certain parts of the US and world.
    Right now that means Chicago, Seattle, Portland, NYC, and certain parts of CA.
    Market sales abroad are seriously slumping due to overall NIB costs, and the fact that private sales are not anywhere as high in the United States.
    Stern is not focused on operators, keeping pinball affordable to operators, or any of that discussion.
    They would not have price jumped games an average of $500 every 6 months for the past 5 years, if this was the case.

    Only one game out of FOUR released this ENTIRE YEAR was focused at operators, GB.
    That is 25% of all produced games.
    This does not seem operator focused from my perspective.
    GoT was a 2015 title rerun, along with anything else in small batches they decide to do, most of which was premium not pro models.

    Pabst - NO
    BM66 - NO
    SMVE - NO
    GB - YES

    The future of pro models after the next couple of years is questionable, especially if they are successfully able to provide another home model to consumers. I think they will be completely gone within two years. Operators need to step up to a Premium (which is becoming the new pro at the current time) or move on.
    What are operators doing?
    Many operators are already moving on and thumbing their noses at Stern (as operators thumbed noses at WMS over 20 years ago), holding their existing stock, as pinball is neither profitable, monetarily feasible, or selling off what they already own.

    Gary Stern has a tendency to "flip back and forth" based on where and when he is talking at different venues to generate a market "perspective".
    There is a muddling with good justification based on what needs to occur in the industry as a whole.

    Many operators are fairly new to the game, meaning less than 10-15 years, and jumped onto the train during the latest resurgence (last 6 years), or decided to dabble back in the world of pinball to diversify their machine stock. They certainly are interested in the opinion of the controlling entity of the industry. This was evident based on the nature of the questions, which leaned towards people that were private owners more than operators anyway. History development question about Lazer Wars and QuickSilver? (Price of tea in China please?) This is not an operator type of question, and is inconsequential to an operator. Another question was asked regarding released of a BM66 "operator version", which Gary clearly stated this was not the targeted market.

    But anyway, here is the crux.

    Stern changed their market focus and tactics back all the way back in 2006 to the home market (perhaps closer to 2005, but the effects were seen in 2006), when Gary was forced by his investors and certain levels of production were wrested away from this control due to his unwillingness to accept certain points of change, meaning private owners are the primary market, not the other way around.
    Essentially he is an extensive shareholder and figurehead of the company now, not the decisive factor on how and what games get made.
    I am not dismissing his direct influence in the company or industry, however.
    This was done in order to prevent the company from losing more income based on decreased sales and moving towards bankruptcy.
    Designers were open with their comments back then, and many levels of detail can still be found on the internet.
    Board room meetings are not posted videos on Youtube, based on decisions.
    It was the birth of the "LE" a year later with SMB.
    It was a rerun push period of successful "savior titles" such as TSPP, LOTR, and even HD.
    They cannot say that the operator remains the driving force of the market (even at 50% which is different response from the previous 30% reported, when he stated 70% of the market was home use which was targeted at the private owner audience), because it is not at the present time, and has not been the case since the early 2000s.
    He just "adjusts" his discussion temperance dependent on whomever is talking to at the moment.
    He did not do that at the Expo 30th Anniversary party as that was directed at consumers.

    The true reality:
    He keeps trying to sell ice water to thirsty camels with no cash because camels do not have pockets.
    Maybe if they were kangaroos instead...

    Jokes aside, I got into a serious argument with somebody a while back that did not have all the history and seeing what was going on behind the scenes in the early 2000s.
    Public declarations are not realities, it is part of the industry "smoke and mirrors" for advertisement, sales, and profit.
    This friendly interview is an extension of the industry concepts.
    Gary is never going to tell fledging operators, "we are not supporting you, it simply is not profitable anymore."
    It is like telling private owners, "Hey, we know this game design is a complete dud with incomplete code, and non working features but we want you to pay full retail anyway."
    Gary did admit to the nature of if a game is dud, it can have dire consequences to a company, and he is speaking from direct experience of the past. Simply, half truths with not all facts together at the same time to make a positive point.

    Gary directly mentioned in the video, he is out of touch with the themes and what people want to play.
    Although directed as a joke, he was being truthful and accurate of game production control which was appreciated.

    People should note very closely what he talking about regarding "proper retail outlets to buy pinball machines".
    Those actually already EXIST in small numbers all over the country, but that is NOT what he was referring to overall.
    He tipped his hand.
    BM66 LE and SLE was sold DIRECTLY to consumers as another part of a test market, anyway, as a big "$#@! you" to distributors.
    He was indirectly talking in his discussion about the Stern Store concept (untested and potentially developed in 2017), and squeezing out the middleman distributors that he says are predominantly selling to operators???, which is untrue.
    By having private stores, Stern increases profit margins again, couple with existing reduction of features, and increasing prices.
    That should make distributors perk their ears up.
    They are not going to have a "coupon day" at the Stern Stores, nor will they reduce prices to increase the consumer market.
    The pinball market is still too damn small.

    He also talked about "The Pin" indirectly with Costco (test market), watch this closely in the future, wherever they may choose to test sell "The Pin v2.0". I don't think it will be Best Buy or Sears, but perhaps WalMart would be a better choice, if sales could be negotiated, SM game is ready, and the market is prepared for this "lower cost home consumer quality game" (ie the pro of the future).
    There is a lot of relevancy regarding the future of this industry in his latest "fireside chat".
    Gary Stern is once again mixing realities with concepts for sales, advertising, and income for the benefit of the company.

    Distributors are selling the vast majority to private owners, and any of them will state this aspect clearly.
    Pick one of choice, any of the largest ones, not "mom and pop" dealers.
    How does this help operators?
    Not a whole lot, unless every private owner buying machines for their home is excited to play location games as well based on enthusiasm.
    The realities are, many are buying these games so they DON'T have to go out on location to play, or never cared to do in the first place.
    I don't go to barcades to play games I own in my house.
    I might go for a tournament or with friends, but generally we end up going to each other's homes.
    That is the advantage of a "private collection owner".

    NOTE:
    BTW, I completely agree that STLE was the last true limited edition game with substantial effort being placed in making the game unique.
    Now, it's decals (including the "backglass"), different recycled side armor, and reduced basic features. All for $3000 more than what was being sold less than a couple of years ago. Nobody is going to tell me that any SPIKE game has more features than a SAM equivalent game, because that is is a bunch of crap.

    Stern Store 2 (resized).jpg

    #731 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    I researched it for months personally. In the end, even putting out a used machine, like The Addams Family, was barely worth the return for the wear and tear it puts on the game and the time commitment needed to keep it well maintained for play.

    I've researched it for my county in MD, too. If you do it smartly – under an LLC with insurance, that really nails your profits. Then, of course, there are taxes and (in this county) a yearly game fee of $150/per.

    At the end of the day, it's not a great situation for "earning"

    #732 2 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    I've researched it for my county in MD, too. If you do it smartly – under an LLC with insurance, that really nails your profits. Then, of course, there are taxes and (in this county) a yearly game fee of $150/per.
    At the end of the day, it's not a great situation for "earning"

    There should really be a sub-forum for these kinds of discussions, as it takes the OP off topic.

    Not every where is going to work for pinball on route, so no one can really say 'There is no profit in it, look at XXX!", just like my data point of "You can make a profit!" is not fact everywhere.

    #733 2 years ago

    I wonder how a 15% corporate tax rate and lower Health care costs with the repeal of Obamacare will impact Stern's decision making in the future.

    Maybe more upgrades and features passed back down to us consumers!

    #734 2 years ago
    Quoted from iceman44:

    I wonder how a 15% corporate tax rate and lower Health care costs with the repeal of Obamacare will impact Stern's decision making in the future.
    Maybe more upgrades and features passed back down to us consumers!

    Trickle down features? Trickle down code updates? Nah, that will never occur, lol. Maybe more upgrades in terms of being offered to buy a mirrored backglass for $300 once its pulled from LE models but that's about it.

    Regardless of what legislative action occurs I don't see Stern lowering their prices or increasing value until they start seeing sales slow.

    #735 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    No, and your blind defense of them is childish in your understanding of things. A business doesn't exist to make the most profit as quickly as possible. It's to be the most sustainable in profitability over time.
    Stern has to be responsible on their pricing and with the quality of their product. If they aren't, it's the operator that suffers the most. Once the operators start tapping out, that in turn hurts Stern. Stern's recent money grab efforts are going to be bad for long-term business in exchange for a short term profit spike. Keep offloading more cost on the operator via maintenance due to lower quality builds while upping the entry cost, and you have a perfect mix for pushing operators out of business; or at the very least, push operators out of the business of operating new games.

    Nice straw-man argument ...I am not blindingly defending Stern, the question was joke because your grammar and syntax skills are weak. "Pinball profits are bad" isn't the same as "Pinball is not profitable" which is the message I think you were intending to convey.

    Quality issues are quantifiable and should be addressed in order to maintain customer satisfaction. If customers are not satisfied with the quality they should stop buying the product, period.
    If the price (which is subjective) of the product is too high, or higher than the perceived value, then the customer should refrain from purchasing the product., period.

    All this nonsense about customers attempting to tell a business how much profit they deserve is insane ... any business not just Stern ... buy their products or don't, it is pretty simple. I feel sorry for people who have spent the life or a portion of their life making a living operating arcade equipment and find their profits shrinking but we are in a world where arcades may no longer be relevant ...that is the issue, not how much Stern charges for a machine.

    #736 2 years ago
    Quoted from pinworthy:

    Nice straw-man argument ...I am not blindingly defending Stern, the question was joke because your grammar and syntax skills are weak. "Pinball profits are bad" isn't the same as "Pinball is not profitable" which is the message I think you were intending to convey.
    Quality issues are quantifiable and should be addressed in order to maintain customer satisfaction. If customers are not satisfied with the quality they should stop buying the product, period.
    If the price (which is subjective) of the product is too high, or higher than the perceived value, then the customer should refrain from purchasing the product., period.
    All this nonsense about customers attempting to tell a business how much profit they deserve is insane ... any business not just Stern ... buy their products or don't, it is pretty simple. I feel sorry for people who have spent the life or a portion of their life making a living operating arcade equipment and find their profits shrinking but we are in a world where arcades may no longer be relevant ...that is the issue, not how much Stern charges for a machine.

    Ah, my post got mangled. I was typing on my phone and was interrupted. I tried to rephrase and screwed it up. I was trying to say that the manufacturers taking too high of profits are bad. They are just going to derail location recovery and growth. They take too much, operators can't make it back in coin drop, especially if they have to put more into maintenance or if games have a lower life cycle (still too soon to know if that's going to be the case or not) due to unavailability of replacement parts or durability issues.

    This is just one issue in pinball to consider, really. I got turned away from going into operating by this, I know I'm not alone.

    Nobody can tell Stern what they deserve to take, what their margins should be, but it's WAY MORE than fair to be critical of what they're doing if it's going to impact the future of location pinball. Take away the operator market, and I don't think the home market is big enough to support multiple manufacturers. Pretty easy to follow domino effect.

    #737 2 years ago

    Welp, looks like I'm banned from the stern facebook page. IIRC, I said something to the effect of "I wish you did a random drawing for Super LE's instead of the the application so regular joes had a shot at it".

    Unbelievable. I guess it's a right of passage at this point in the hobby. As a digital marketing professional, I can verify that their management of social media is laughable. I was considering a GB Prem but their continued alienation and disrespect for their customers is unbelievable.

    -1
    #738 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    Pinball profits are bad. They just are. Despite a resurgence in some areas, in the vast majority of locations, pinball just can't draw much in regards to coin drop. Priced at $1 a play, it still takes over 6,500 plays to just break even on a premium model machine (more if you're routing a JJP). That's to break even, assuming that you don't factor your own time in, maintenance on the machine, or your travel expenses.

    This thinking is pure wrong. It assumes that the machine is worth $0 as soon as you bought it. You pay $6700, route it a year and keep it cleaned, and sell it for $6200 or such a year later. Your break even was $500 or about $40 a month. If you keep it 2 years you can probably still get $6200 or close. 5 years maybe $5800.

    #739 2 years ago
    Quoted from markmon:

    This thinking is pure wrong. It assumes that the machine is worth $0 as soon as you bought it. You pay $6700, route it a year and keep it cleaned, and sell it for $6200 or such a year later. Your break even was $500 or about $40 a month. If you keep it 2 years you can probably still get $6200 or close. 5 years maybe $5800.

    ...and replace it with nothing? They don't get to keep that money. They have to keep the route stocked. That cost has to go into the next machine, which costs more than the previous one did, so there's an additional $250-$500 in cost to absorb depending on whether they change the game yearly or every other year.

    #740 2 years ago

    Don't forget to add in depreciation come tax time. That helps.

    #741 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    ...and replace it with nothing? They don't get to keep that money. They have to keep the route stocked. That cost has to go into the next machine, which costs more than the previous one did, so there's an additional $250-$500 in cost to absorb depending on whether they change the game yearly or every other year.

    Yes.. that's called 'up front money'. You don't lose that money on every future game... you keep rolling it forward.

    #743 2 years ago
    Quoted from flynnibus:

    Yes.. that's called 'up front money'. You don't lose that money on every future game... you keep rolling it forward.

    The point is that it shrinks every year with rising costs on new machines and higher maintenance due to lower quality components. That's where Stern is interrupting the cycle for operators. They can't back out of their inventory at a break even amount nearly as easy as they used to be able to. Lower coin drop is the biggest issue, but Stern's hand is only compounding the problem.

    Edit:

    My dad owns a manufacturing business. His upfront cost on a machine is very different. Where he may pay $1-$2 million for a new machine, it will pay back $20 million over its life in profits. It pays back much faster than it depreciates, and the money it generates can pay for several new machines over, plus employee salaries. Pinball machines don't pay back anymore in the vast majority of situations.

    #744 2 years ago
    Quoted from damageinc55:

    Welp, looks like I'm banned from the stern facebook page. IIRC, I said something to the effect of "I wish you did a random drawing for Super LE's instead of the the application so regular joes had a shot at it".
    Unbelievable. I guess it's a right of passage at this point in the hobby. As a digital marketing professional, I can verify that their management of social media is laughable. I was considering a GB Prem but their continued alienation and disrespect for their customers is unbelievable.

    Don't feel bad many collectors have been banned anywhere between 1-2 years ago, since they ramped up their Facebook as a sales marketing advertisement medium.
    True comment, most everybody I know cannot post, even if they asked a simple question for explanation.
    The rest simply do not care.
    Stern does not like questions of any type publically, even if completely legitimate, unless accompanies a "happy ending" review.
    Any type of quality control/assurance aspects need to be dealt with "in the dark".
    They are not gaining any ground with anyone that has been around awhile, or understand some of the "glowing history" from the 2000s.
    It simply the company policy to block any type different perspective.
    I hope they are ready for eventual backlash when the good times fade, because the the current fad will not last forever.

    #745 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    My dad owns a manufacturing business. His upfront cost on a machine is very different. Where he may pay $1-$2 million for a new machine, it will pay back $20 million over its life in profits. It pays back much faster than it depreciates, and the money it generates can pay for several new machines over, plus employee salaries

    It's true of most investments of capital equipment. 3d printing is on the rise because hobby printers are a very reasonable investment. In the 8 months I've owned mine, it's paid for itself easily 6 times over. I could literally throw it in the garbage and I'd still come out way ahead. Same holds true for any filament I buy. Whatever amount of material cost my program calculates, I charge anywhere from 5-10 times that cost (to pay for wear and tear, and a small amount of electricity). The spool is paid for after about 6 small print jobs.

    While it's true pinballs hold their value, I don't see how most ops can make money on coin drop. The only way for pinball to possible survive is freeplay.. Either you buy an all day pass at an arcade, or a barcade sets the pinballs to freeplay as an attraction device but make it up on alcohol sales (which are typically 100% profit minus alcohol license). License fees haven't changed much in 30 years even though the market has, and insurance rates have gone up.

    #746 2 years ago

    Brand new Stern premium product just in time for Christmas!
    Adds more fun to a new pinball machine experience.
    Multiple functionality use.
    Can be installed in any home.
    Unique "retro" pinball design!

    Available for deposit at http://costore.com/sternpinball/welcome.asp
    Extra paper rolls are not included, but are available for an additional $10 per roll.
    Future designs for game specific titles like GB, MET, SMVE, and BM66 with color matching designs forthcoming.

    Perfect holiday gift for the new owner/collector who has everything.
    Modification kit is included for pinball leg installation, if required.
    Easy to install/understand instructions for use.

    LED mount Limited Edition version is under design, and expected to be released by Thanksgiving, but may be delayed due to enhanced installation code instructions required for Stern SPIKE machines.
    SLE version will include a signed roll by Gary Stern, numbered certificate of authenticity is included that he actually used the roll at the Stern factory prior to shipping. A truly unique limited edition item that should not be overlooked by the discriminating new serious pinball collector.

    Disclaimer and product notes:
    - Application process required prior to acceptance of any sale of LE/SLE product
    - Non-refundable deposit required, see website for specific details
    - Final price TBD, based on consumer interest
    - Product offered as a Stern exclusive, and will not be available by distributors
    - Owner must be willing to sign a release statement that this device will only be installed in their home for private use, not a public restroom
    - Required tracking device installed at the factory, removal of such device voids ability to purchase any future items from the Stern Store, Facebook, or use of Stern customer service technical support
    - Stern reserves the right to increase production numbers and price at any time and without notice including LE and SLE variations
    - Stern will not be liable for any misuse, visual product differences as described, or inability to ship product as projected
    - Limit one dispenser per customer, however extra rolls are unlimited for purchase and are recommended under conditions for extended use.

    Stern Toilet Paper Dispenser (resized).jpg

    #747 2 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    The point is that it shrinks every year with rising costs on new machines and higher maintenance due to lower quality components. That's where Stern is interrupting the cycle for operators. They can't back out of their inventory at a break even amount nearly as easy as they used to be able to. Lower coin drop is the biggest issue, but Stern's hand is only compounding the problem.
    Edit:
    My dad owns a manufacturing business. His upfront cost on a machine is very different. Where he may pay $1-$2 million for a new machine, it will pay back $20 million over its life in profits. It pays back much faster than it depreciates, and the money it generates can pay for several new machines over, plus employee salaries. Pinball machines don't pay back anymore in the vast majority of situations.

    "It pays back much faster than it depreciates"

    That is the key point and the only bit that matters as most things have a service lifetime. You started out by saying you had to recover the full cost - that's incorrect because you did not account for the residual value. Then you tried to say that residual value is not counted because you have to buy the next game. True, but wrong. The residual value is still there and still in play.. there is no principle that says the next game must be as cheap as the last not does that negate the games residual. If costs go up, that's why you saving revenue as capital for your future investments.

    Residual value as a reflection of a game's current earning potential is what fed the entire tiered operating model the industry relied upon. Buyers know it, vendors know it. It's why games are pitched based on their earning potential, not time to break even. Top tier buys latest game, then sells it at auction to the next guy, etc

    "Pinball machines don't pay back anymore in the vast majority of situations"

    Of course. It's why the arcade is dead. It's not like pinball is being held back because some just don't believe in it... if it were the best way to make money, it would rule the roost. It's not. But that alone doesn't mean they can't make money... it's a question of can you make enough money to make it worth it. That's where most eventually come to the reality the answer is no, and you have to decide if it's what you want to do for other reasons besides simply earnings vs effort.

    #748 2 years ago

    Dear OP,

    Can you please add a poll asking your 175 upvoters if they will be first in line for Star Wars?...LE of course

    Thanks

    #749 2 years ago

    I hope stern is reading this thread. I just bought three more pins not one was a Stern.

    #750 2 years ago
    Quoted from RandomGuyOffCL:

    Dear OP,
    Can you please add a poll asking your 175 upvoters if they will be first in line for Star Wars?...LE of course
    Thanks

    Already in line, are you kidding me?

    Same people. Especially the ones that think they can make a quick flip profit.

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